Tag Archives: holidaze

Hot dog!

3 Sep

a hot dog on a toasted bun, with avocado, spicy sriracha mayo, grilled shrimp, and slivers of nori seaweed.

It’s Labor Day and that means it’s time to heat up the grill!  Usually when I think of gourmet grillables, hot dogs are not the first things that come to mind.  But back in June when I first cracked open that month’s Sunset Magazine to a feature on fancy-ing up your every day dog, I knew I had to give it a try.

Photo of hot dogs, shrimp and shredded nori, plus a magazine with the recipe that includes those ingredients

This weekend we decided to try out The Surfer Hot Dog, a dog topped with grilled shrimp, avocado, spicy mayo, and slivers of nori.  We made a few modifications to the recipe, spiral-cutting the dogs (as had been recommended by our dear friend and cook extraordinaire Sara) and letting them hang out in some homemade teriyaki marinade prior to grilling.  CHOW has a handy video on the how and why of spiral-cut hot dogs.

We served these bad boys with some of our homegrown tomatoes.  I roughly diced the large tomatoes and cut the smaller ones in half, tossing them with a homemade vinaigrette (rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sriracha, peanut oil, soy sauce) and chopped fresh basil.  I let them hang out on the counter for an hour before serving so that the tomatoes could soak up the dressing.  Pro-tip: don’t ever put tomatoes in the fridge! The cool temps ruin their flavor.

multi-colored tomato salad with basil in a light blue bowl

Sometimes recipes from magazines can be a disappointing, but these were worth the extra effort.  The same article included recipes for four other topped hot dogs (1, 2, 3, 4).  I think we’ll be trying out the Cowboy soon; spicy mustard, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon crumbles? Someone sure knows the way to my heart!

a hot dog on a toasted bun, with avocado, spicy sriracha mayo, grilled shrimp, and slivers of nori seaweed.

Happy Labor Day! Happy grilling!

Grillin’ it

14 May

The past few weeks have been just short of chaos at our house.  I attended the OLA annual conference in Bend in the end of April and did a poster session on some work I’ve been doing on using popular culture to teach information literacy.  The whole conference was a blur of engaging sessions, library-related swag, and watching late night TV with my friend and hotel roomie Amy.  Overall, it was a great experience and I would absolutely recommend participating in the poster session to any interested students.

That said, I would recommend that you do not wait until the last minute to create your poster board.  I believe that poster boards are actually portals to alternate dimensions where time moves at a much quicker rate.  You would be amazed at the amount of time it takes to make a mediocre poster board.  Hours and hours and hours.

Also don’t wait until the last minute because as you’re finishing up your poster board at 11pm in the hotel room, you might realize that you forgot to print off half of your reference list.  Not that I know this from experience…

OLA was also cool because Amy and I got to eat here:

Why, yes, that is an old double-decker bus that has been converted into a food cart called “The Codfather.”

The only problem with the OLA conference is that it was scheduled for the second half of my dead week in school, taking up very valuable studying time.  This term I was far less organized than usual; finals week this term definitely tested my studying abilities.  Miraculously, I survived!

Thankfully, that means that this past week has been my summer break.  My school program goes through the summer so as of today I’ve started new classes and my summer vacation is through.  I definitely milked the blessed seven days off of school for all they were worth with plenty of gardening and relaxing.

Summer vacation culminated with the annual Librarian Prom on Saturday night.  I made a giant batch of sangria based off a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.  The sangria was well received at the party but not so well received the next morning, from what I hear.

I wore too much eyeliner and my favorite dress: a red caftan with Egyptian motif and many, many sequins.

Thankfully, Nate and I weren’t too hung over after the prom so we were able to spend some time with our mothers the next day for mother’s day.  The weather was beautiful, so we cooked up a great dinner on the grill for my momma.

burgundy plate with grilled broccoli, veggie couscous, and grilled chicken

Grilled chicken with a curry yogurt sauce, grilled vegetable couscous, grilled broccoli with feta, and flat bread made on the (you guessed it) grill!  Nate was responsible for the broccoli and it was truly out of this world.  I’ll see if I can convince him to share the recipe.

burgundy plate with grilled broccoli, veggie couscous and grilled chicken

What is it about eating outside that makes food taste so dang good?  My summer vacation may be over but I’m looking forward to more of this weather!

Happy spring

7 Apr

They say that sex, politics, and religion shouldn’t be discussed at parties.  But what about on blogs?

Tomorrow is Easter.  While both Nate and I were raised in fairly religious families, we aren’t currently practicing any religion.  However, we never turn down an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, so we’re planning on attending multiple Easter festivities tomorrow.

It’s always seemed weird to me that non-Christians would celebrate Easter, for some reason far stranger than celebrating Christmas.  I guess it’s because Easter hasn’t been quite as commercialized.  I’ve also always seen Easter and the story of Jesus’ resurrection as being a pillar of Christianity, a confirmation of Jesus’ position as the son of God.  It seems weird to me, then, that non-believers would celebrate such a religious holiday even if their celebrations are supposed to be secular.  Can you really have a secular celebration of a day that is so tied to a specific religion?

That said, now that I’m guilty of “joining the party,” it hasn’t really been bothering me all that much.  I’m just seeing it as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones and partake in some fun traditions.  Can you say hypocrite?!

But today the sun is out and the weather is beautiful.  It looks like spring is here (at least for now) and that is definitely a reason to celebrate!

Anyway, Nate is almost solely responsible for this asparagus gallette with goat cheese.  All I did is assemble it and snap some photos.  It’s super easy (I’m not just saying that because Nate made it) and would be perfect for your Easter festivities or just to help welcome the spring season.

Asparagus galette with goat cheese

Adapted from a recipe from Feast on the Cheap

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of pre-made puff pastry
  • 1 half of an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 oz. goat cheese

Preheat your oven to 400F degrees.  Roll out puff pastry into a rectangle approximately 15″ by 10″.  Make a score mark around the edge of the puff pastry, about 1 inch from the edge.  Pierce the puff pastry inside of the score mark with a fork, place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbsp of the oil, and then the chopped onion.  Saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the balsamic vinegar, if using.

Put the trimmed asparagus to a large bowl and toss with the remaining olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the par-baked puff pastry from the oven.  Evenly distribute the onion mixture over the crust, followed by the cottage cheese and goat cheese.  Place the asparagus on top.

Bake in your 400F degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Bella offered to act as a taste tester for you.  That’s so nice of her, isn’t it?

Slice and serve warm.  I bet squeezing a little fresh lemon juice over the top would be good too.  Happy spring!

Being green

21 Mar

I can tell I’m starting to become an adult.  I know that in the U.S. they say you become an adult when you turn 18, but let’s be real.  The first few years of adulthood happen to line up with the “college years” for a whole slew of people.  Not that I’m speaking from experience here, but I would say that, in many cases, there isn’t much that’s grown-up about the college years.  Sure, you have to feed yourself and do your own laundry and pay rent, but besides that?  Irresponsible choices galore.  Not that I’m speaking from experience…

Anyway, I can tell that I’m growing up because my idea of a fun St. Paddy’s day this year was focused on food rather than booze.  I donned my best 1950’s Irish housewife outfit and hit the grocery stores for corned beef, cabbage, soda bread, and Guinness (hey, I said it wasn’t focused on booze, not that it was booze free)!

Fat woman with light skin and short brown hair, wearing a pink headscarf, green dress and green cardigan. She is wide eyed and covering her mouth with her hands. Her fingernails are painted green.

Despite being named Margaret and having a brother named Cullen (two pretty darn Irish names), I don’t feel very in touch with my Irish heritage.  Or any heritage, for that matter.  I guess that’s the price you pay for being a western European mutt.  Recently, I was wondering if previous generations of my family have distanced themselves from these identities due to the negative connotations that have historically been associated with them.  We’re mostly Irish and German, after all.  Have any insight, Mom?

Anyway, I’ve decided that there’s no time like the present to try to get in touch with those roots and there’s no better way to get in touch with a culture than through food.

Cabbage is a big deal to both the Irish and German, so my eyes lit up a little bit when I saw the recipe World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage in Molly Stevens’ book “All About Braising.”  I guess this dish is technically Italian (what with the balsamic vinegar) but it went perfectly with our corned beef.  Actually, it didn’t go perfectly with our corned beef; it blew our store bought beef out of the water!

On a side note, have you ever heard of Chef Molly Stevens?  I recently heard an interview with her on The Splendid Table and immediately put her cookbooks on hold at the library.  So far, Nate and I have made four of her recipes and they have all been stellar.  I’d never heard of her before so I figured I would spread the word in case you’re in the same boat.

The only negative of this recipe is that the cooking time is over two hours, so plan ahead.  It’s worth it!

Braised cabbage in a blue cast iron casserole

Best Braised Green Cabbage I’ve Ever Had

Vegetarianized straight from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising, check it oooout

Ingredients:

  • 2lb cabbage
  • 1 onion, sliced into large slices
  • 1 carrot, chopped into rounds
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. vegetable stock, divided
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • Hot pepper flakes (to taste)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly oil a large baking pan or casserole (I used our 3 quart cast iron casserole). Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and slice into eight wedges.  Add to the pan or casserole in a single layer.  Sprinkle the onion and carrot over the top, then drizzle with the olive oil and 1/4 c. vegetable oil.  Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Cover (with aluminum foil or lid) and put into the oven.

After two hours, remove the pan from the oven.  Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Turn the pieces of cabbage over.  Add the balsamic vinegar and, if things are looking dry, the remaining vegetable stock.  Return the pan to the oven and let cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until the cabbage starts to brown.

Braised green cabbage in a blue cast iron casserole

Molly says that this could serve 6-8, but it was so good it only served four at our house.  It ain’t pretty, but appearances aren’t everything, right?  Especially when something is this delicious!

Probably not perfect pie crust

19 Mar

March 14th was Pi Day!  3.14, get it?  I love pie but don’t take the time to make it very often.  Nate and I had just picked up some frozen organic blackberries to stock the freezer with; what better way to use them than in a pie?

As I was looking online, I found a number of pie crust recipes that claimed to be the “perfect pie crust.”  I’m not sure how there can be so many different perfect pie crust recipes.  You would think that some of them would only be “amazing” or “wonderful,” but not quite perfect.

But I digress.

I had been eying the Pioneer Woman’s pie crust recipe for a while because it’s supposed to be super flaky, a trait that I most enjoy in my crust.  The key is a tablespoon of white vinegar, which you aren’t able to taste in the final product.  I had intended to follow the PW recipe to the letter but it’s a shortening crust.  We didn’t have any shortening in the house, but we did have a pound of organic unsalted butter in the freezer that I snapped up while it was on sale.

So, I searched out found a perfect all-butter crust recipe on Simply Recipes.  This recipe suggested smooshing the dough (this is a technical cooking term ala Meggie) on your counter to achieve maximum flakiness.  I was feeling lazy so I couldn’t help but think, what if I just replace a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of vinegar instead?

Blackberry pie with lattice crust

Thus, the crust for this pie was adapted from these two “perfect” pie crust recipes.  Because of that, you could probably consider it to be double perfect, although realistically it’s probably not really perfect but merely wonderful and amazing.

For the filling, I mostly followed this recipe for blackberry pie.  I added extra lemon zest and juice because we like things tart around here and used vanilla extract instead of almond.

Slice of blackberry pie with lattice top

This was my first attempt at a lattice pie crust and I’m quite pleased with myself and the results.  We drizzled a little good half-and-half over the pie, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be, well… perfect!

Be mine, valentine

17 Feb

round vintage pyrex container with gold hearts

Nate sent me a link to this XKCD comic and it really sums up what Valentine’s Day is like at our house year after year.

Some years we flat out forget about Valentine’s day.  One year we tried to go out to dinner and stopped by three packed restaurants before remembering what day it was.  We usually forget about our anniversary too.

This year we did considerably more than normal.  Nate was had the day off on the 13th, so we decided to stop by some of my favorite thrift stores.  Waiting for us, was this:

Round vintage pyrex container with gold hearts

Vintage Pyrex? Check.

Hearts? Check.

Starbursts? Check.

Shiny gold? Check.

This baby is a dream come true!

It needed to be cleaned up but it came with the lid in tow and cost half as much as one that I had lusted after in the same store a few weeks before.  I’m secretly hoping that this is a start to an awesome vintage Pyrex collection. We’ll see!

That night, Nate made awesome carrot sandwiches, the recipe for which came from my most recent Food & Wine magazine.  It was easy but so good and I think we will be eating it again (and probably posting about it) soon.

For dinner the day of the Valentine, I made steak with a bleu cheese compound butter, roasted root veggies (Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, baby purple potatoes), and some awesome red quinoa.  I used homemade chicken stock for the cooking liquid and it made quite a difference.  We washed everything down with some red wine.

Oh, and this:

Chocolate cherry coke float with two white and red striped paper straws

Oregon black cherry ice cream + dark chocolate syrup + Coca cola with real sugar.  Do yourself a favor and make one of these soon.